When we think about recycling, we don't often think about textiles. Textiles are made from natural or synthetic fibers (or a blend), and are used to make clothing, shoes, linens, bedding, upholstery, curtains, mattresses, carpets, and much more. Nearly all domestic textiles are recyclable, but less than 15% of textiles generated in the U.S. are reused or recycled — leaving 85% to be landfilled or incinerated. On average, each American throws away 70 pounds of textiles per year.
Although some textiles are considered difficult to recycle, it is important to address this growing waste stream. Textiles production has doubled since 2000, and the amount of textile waste heading to landfills has increased by over 70% during that timeframe. This is quite a jump compared to the overall 6% increase in waste going to landfills.
Reusing and recycling textiles helps limit reliance on natural resources — whether natural cotton and linen (and all the inputs that go into making them, including water, pesticides, and energy) or petroleum-based synthetic fibers. You can do your part to help others, and the environment, by donating your clothes to be reused or recycled instead!